Monday, January 5, 2009

Measure Twice, Cut Once

One of my father's hobbies is woodworking. His second favorite saying when working on a project is "measure twice, cut once," referring to the fact that cutting is the easy part - the preparation for the cut is much more critical. (His most favorite saying is "Blixen Schwinehunt!" which I believe is swearing altered to accommodate our young ears.)

My father and I share this very strong personality trait: we intellectually know how critical preparation and measurement are, and yet we are obsessed with speed and "getting things done," and thus often make mistakes that result in long strings of expletives.

Last week I decided to repaint our downstairs bathroom, which was a beautiful shade of green that unfortunately absorbed light and turned the room into a dark little cave. It took two coats of primer applied over the course of three days to cover the dark green, but, based on this careful preparation, the fresh new light-reflecting color that I applied took just one quick coat, and was complete in under an hour.

Thus, I was reminded of my father's adage, and proud of myself for forcing the patience of preparation. Rather than chasing the glory of the final coat, I focused carefully on the simple pleasure of the undercoats - the critical underpinnings of a job well-done.

For my entire life I have been rushing ... running and struggling to achieve "success." This year, I am going to explore what it is like to enjoy the undercoats of success ... the process. Who knows; it might even make the end result that much better and enjoyable!

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